Loose tuning pin

General troubleshooting

Loose tuning pin

Postby Bob Lewis » Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:16 am

Here you have a couple of options including 1) wood swelling compound as is used on piano pins and loose chair rails, 2) lining the hole with fine sandpaper with the grit facing away from the pin, and finally 3) plugging the hole with glued doweling and redrilling.

I think I'd start with the sandpaper. Use a 1/8" strip on the hole wall facing the speaking length of the string, grit side away from the pin threads. I prefer using fine grit emery cloth.

The doweling thing is better done professionally, since the hole actually needs to be drilled out oversized first. There must be a doweling wood halo left after redrilling. Simply filling existing holes doesn't work, because you wind up with pin threads running on glue, not fresh wood doweling. I have used a 1/4" hole and 1/4" fluted dowels set in with alyphatic yellow glue (Titebond, Elmer's Carpenter's Glue, et al.). That glue is water soluble, effective, and easy to clean up.

The swelling compound is okay but can easily result in overtight holes which squeak and strings which are then very difficult to fine tune. I use PinTite, which I bought from a piano supply company (Schaff).

A whole series of holes which are "mushy" under a wrench but still hold tuning can be remedied by installing fine tuners, no longer relying on the tuning pins except to change strings. An entire instrument may become "tired" and gain a new lease on life with a fine tuner upgrade. That is in fact why Bryan Bowers stopped giving instruments away. With fine tuners, he no longer wore them out by being fastidious about tuning accuracy.

Someone may mention "oversized tuning pins". There is no such commercially available product, although there used to be. The single custom made pin I know of is necessarily expensive. Try to avoid it. In any case, we don't know if it is "large enough", do we? I would consider it if not handy enough to try some of the other alternatives. Write to me for a source referral, if desiring to pursue this option boblewis@autoharpworks.com
Bob Lewis
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